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Stroud is a town and civil parish in the county of Gloucestershiremarker, England. It is the main town in Stroud Districtmarker.

Situated below the western escarpment of the Cotswold Hillsmarker at the meeting point of the Five Valleysmarker, the town is noted for its steep streets and cafe culture. The Cotswold Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty surrounds the town in all directions, and the Cotswold Way path passes by it to the west.

Although not formally part of the town, the parishes of Rodboroughmarker and Cainscrossmarker lie adjacent to Stroud and are often considered part of it.Stroud acts as a centre for many surrounding villages and small market towns including Minchinhamptonmarker, Amberleymarker, Sladmarker, Bisley, Stonehousemarker, Woodchestermarker, Painswickmarker, Chalfordmarker, Thruppmarker, Sheepscombemarker, Nailsworthmarker, Dursleymarker and Oakridgemarker.


Stroud is known for its involvement in the Industrial Revolution. It was a cloth town; woollen mills were powered by the small rivers which surge through the five valleys, and supplied by Cotswold sheep grazed on the hills above. Particularly noteworthy was the production of military uniforms in the colour Stroudwater Scarlet. The area was made home by a sizable Huguenot community in the 17th century, fleeing persecution in Catholic France, followed by a significant Jewish presence in the 19th century, linked to the tailoring and cloth industries.

Stroud was a fairly major industrial and trading location in the nineteenth century, and so needed transport links. It first had a canal network in the form of the Stroudwater Navigation and the Thames & Severn Canal, both of which struggled to survive until the early 20th century. It is now planned to restore these canals as a leisure facility by a partnership of Stroud District Council and the Cotswold Canals Trust with a multi-million pound Lottery grant. Stroud railway stationmarker (on the Gloucestermarker-Swindonmarker the Golden Valley Line) was designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel.

High Street, Stroud's main shopping street

Though there is much evidence of early historic settlement and transport, Stroud parish was originally part of Bisleymarker, and only began to emerge as a distinct unit by the 13th century, taking its name from the marshy ground at the confluence of the Slad Brookmarker and the River Frome called ‘La Strode’ and was first recorded in 1221. The church was built by 1279, and it was assigned parochial rights by the rectors of Bisley in 1304, often cited as the date of Stroud's foundation.

Many historic buildings and places of interest can be found in the area. They include the neolithic long barrows(Uley Long Barrowmarker) at Uleymarker, Selsley Commonmarker and Nympsfieldmarker to the west; Roman era remains at Frocestermarker, West Hill near Uley, and Woodchestermarker; the medieval buildings at Beverston Castlemarker; and the outstanding Tudor houses at Newark Parkmarker and Owlpen Manormarker. Woodchester Mansionmarker is a masterpiece of the Gothic Revival by local architect Benjamin Bucknall.

From 1837 to 1841, Stroud's MP was Lord John Russell of the Whig party who was later to become Prime Minister. Russell was one of the most important politicians of his day, responsible for passing many acts of parliament such as the Public Health Act of 1848, but he is mainly remembered as one of the chief architects of the Reform Act 1867. This act, also known as the Second Reform Act, gave the vote to every urban male householder, not just those of considerable means. This resulted in the electorate being increased by 1.5 million voters. Lord Russell is remembered in the town by two street names, John Street and Russell Street, as well as in the name of the Lord John public house.

Character and amenities

Stroud has a significant artistic community that dates back to the early part of the twentieth century. Jasper Conran called Stroud 'the Covent Garden of the Cotswolds', the Daily Telegraph referred to it as 'the artistic equivalent of bookish Hay-on-Wye' while the London Evening Standard likened the town to 'Notting Hill with wellies'.

The town was one of the birthplaces of the Organic food movement and was home to Britain's first fully-organic café, Woodruffs. The Biodynamic Agricultural Association is based in the town.
Subscription Rooms
For many years Stroud has hosted a fringe festival on the second weekend in September. The town also hosts a regular Vintage Fashion, Textile and Accessories Fair in the Stroud Subscription Rooms, and the fourth annual International Textile Festival was held in May 2009. This is the U.K’s only festival to celebrate the diverse culture of textiles.

Stroud has a strong community of independent shops and cafés, which provide the mainstay of the retail experience in the town. Alongside this, the town centre has witnessed two controversial developments in the form of a new cinema (which replaced the bus station) and a branch of McDonalds which, when plans were unveiled in 2004, came against a lot of opposition from locals. The success of small businesses has, in recent years, caused a number of national retail chains to open outlets in the town.

The Subscription Rooms in the heart of the town centre provide a venue for entertainment and also house the local Tourist Information Centre. On the fringes of the town are Stratford Parkmarker, originally the park of a small stately home, now home to a leisure centre with an indoor and outdoor swimming pool, and the Museum in the Park, a museum of the history and culture of the Stroud valleys.


Stroud citizens have a history of protest going back to the Stroudwater Riots of 1825. In the late 1970s Stroud Campaign Against The Ringroad saw off Gloucestershire County Council's attempt to impose unwanted traffic plans. The public won the day at a Planning Inquiry. A few years later Stroud District Council tried to demolish 18th century buildings in the town centre. Stroud High Street Action Group, with some rooftop protests and a high court judgement, came to the rescue. The restored buildings are now a feature of the High Street. After a short occupation a compromise was reached in the demolition of buildings in Cornhill with many being saved, including one identified as a medieval house. This campaign led to the formation of the Stroud Preservation Trust. which has been instrumental in saving many of the town's oldest buildings like Withey's house, the Brunel Goods Shed and the Hill Paul building.

Stroud Save The Trees Campaign came to national prominence in August 1989 when Stroud District Council tried to implement a road-widening scheme by a midnight raid on thirteen trees it wished to fell within the perimeter of Stratford Parkmarker. However local people got wind of the 'secret' and were there first to protect the trees. After a stand-off that lasted till dawn the police called off the operation on the grounds of public safety. The following year instead of road-widening the first 'traffic calming' in the county was installed.
The restored Hill Paul building
The trees remain to this day. A few years later Stroud District Council planned to fell the only mature tree in the town centre - the hornbeam on the Subscription rooms forecourt. A quickly mobilised citizenry persuaded them otherwise and the hornbeam survived and survives- just peeping into the photo above.

In 2000 Stroud District Council gave permission for the Victorian landmark Hill Paul building to be demolished. After thwarting demolition, local activists quickly formed a company and sold enough shares at £500 each to take an option on the building, which they subsequently passed on to a local developer. The building has now been fully restored and converted into apartments (see photo on the right).

The Save Stroud Hospitals Taskforce has been campaigning since spring 2006 against a range of cuts to health services in and around Stroud, with thousands of people taking part in street demonstrations. Stroud Maternity Hospital was saved in September 2006.

The Uplands Post Office branch in Stroud was one of 26 in the county to shut as part of a nationwide programme to cut losses.Following massive local opposition, the Post Office agreed to talks with civic chiefs to look at how it could reopen. The town council agreed to provide £10,000 of funding for the service in 2008 and up to £25,000 for 2009. In November 2008 it was confirmed that Stroud has become only the second place in Britain to save one of its Post Offices.

However, it must be noted that despite the protests, Tesco opened a store near Stratford park in 1989, McDonalds built a fast food restaurant at Rowcroft in 2005 and soon after, the bus station just down the road was replaced with a cinema.


There is still a small textile industry (the green baize cloth used to cover snooker tables is made here), but today, the town functions primarily as a centre for light engineering and small-scale manufacturing, and a provider of services for the surrounding villages.

The Stroud and Swindon Building Society has its headquarters here. Stroud is also home to the headquarters of the renewable energy provider Ecotricity and is a Fairtrade Town.

In September 2009, the Stroud Pound Co-operative launched the Stroud Pound as an attempt to reinforce the local economy and encourage more local production. The currency's design follows that of the Chiemgauer, in being backed on a one-for-one basis by the national currency, having a charge for redemption which is donated to local charities, and including a system of demurrage to encourage rapid circulation.

Farmers' Market

A variety of bread loaves in Stroud farmers' market

A farmers' market, launched by Jasper Conran and Isabella Blow on 3 July 1999, takes place every Saturday at the Cornhill market. It was nominated for the national Farmers' Market of the Year in 2001 and won it in 2007. It also won the Cotswold Life magazine award for the best farmers' market in Gloucestershire in 2003, 2004 and 2005. The market featured in an episode of BBC TV's The Hairy Bikers' Food Tour of Britain in September 2009, and is certified by FARMA.

In addition to the farmers' market there is a smaller market held in The Shambles, an area adjacent to the steep High Street.John Wesley preached from a butcher's block in The Shambles on 26 June 1742.opposite one of the oldest existing buildings in Stroud, the Old Town Hall. Originally called the Market-house, this was built in 1594 and is still in occasional use today.


School of Science & Art
There was a school at Stroud in 1576 but the schoolmaster, who did not have a licence and failed to teach the catechism, was then dismissed.

Primary schools

There are seven primary schools in the town:

Secondary schools

The town is home to two of Gloucestershire's last remaining state grammar schools: Marling Schoolmarker for boys (founded 1889) and Stroud High Schoolmarker (founded in 1904 as the Girls' Endowed School). They continued on long after the comprehensive school became the norm in secondary education, and their future was the subject of long-running controversy ; they were among the first schools to "opt out" and become grant-maintained . The two schools now share a mixed sixth form, called the Marling School Sixth Form and Stroud High School Sixth Form, which works in a three-way consortium with Archway Sixth Formmarker and Stroud Collegemarker and attracts pupils from many surrounding schools.

The town's other secondary schools are Archway Schoolmarker, a comprehensive school located in the Paganhill area, and Thomas Keble School in Eastcombe.

Tertiary education

Tertiary education in the town is provided by Stroud Collegemarker.


Public bus transport in Stroud is run by Stagecoach, operating from its depot on London Road.

The town is also served by First Great Western trains from Stroud railway stationmarker, with frequent services toGloucestermarker, Cheltenhammarker, Swindonmarker, Readingmarker and Londonmarker.

The A46 road links Stroud to Gloucester in the north and Bathmarker to the south, with the A419connecting Stroud to Cirencestermarker in one direction and the M5 motorway at Junction 13 in the other.

National Express coaches serve the town, and Stroud also lies on the traffic-free section of Sustrans National Cycle Network Route 45.


With novelists Sue Limb, Jilly Cooper and Katie Fforde, children's authors Jamila Gavin and John Dougherty, poet Jenny Joseph, plus national newspaper journalists like The Guardian's food critic Matthew Fort following in the footsteps of the Rev. W. Awdry, and W H Davies by making the Stroud area their home, the town is steadily gaining a reputation as a magnet for literary talent. Two of its most famous sons are the authors Laurie Lee, whose most notable creation Cider with Rosie is set in the nearby Slad valley, and Booker Prize-winning author Alan Hollinghurst. Poets such as Dennis Gould, Michael Horovitz and Adam Horovitz have grown up and/or live in the area.


Stroud Rugby Club, founded in 1873, play in the Western Counties North league. Their home ground is Fromehall Park, near the town centre.

Stroud Cricket Club is over 150 years old and plays its home games at Farmhill. The club has three senior teams with the first eleven playing its cricket in the South West Premier league.

Since 1982 Stroud Athletic Club has organised an annual half marathon which takes place in October. Nearly two and a half thousand runners from all over the country entered in 2007.Members of the club include the UK number one Olympic Marathon runner Dan Robinson.

Stroud Swimming Club was officially formed in 1978, but can trace its origins back to 1905 when it was known as Stroud Swimming and Water Polo Club. In 2006 and 2007 club members made up two thirds of the County team that finished in silver and bronze place respectively in the National Open Water Championships.

Stroud Hockey Club was founded in 1928 and has produced some top class hockey players including Simon Mason.

Politics and media

The current Member of Parliament for the Stroud constituency is David Drew of the Labour & Co-op Parties.

In 2008 Stroud Town Council comprised 11 Green Party councillors, with 5 independents, one Conservative and one Liberal Democrat.

In March 2008, a community radio station, Stroud FM, was launched in the town, broadcasting 24 hours a day on 107.9FM. The station, staffed by volunteers and funded by donations, has an output mainly focused on local news and music, but also plays a range of national and international music. Both BBC Radio Gloucestershire and Heart (Gloucester) have dedicated FM transmitters serving the town.

The local newspaper is the Stroud News & Journal, a paid-for weekly Newsquest title with a circulation of around 19,000.

A rival weekly newspaper, Stroud Life was launched in 2008.


Available figures collated by the local police force and the local Crime & Disorder Reduction Partnership
indicate that Stroud has
a significantly lower level of crime per head of population than the national average.

Crime rates in Stroud (per 1000 population) 2005-2006
Offence Locally Nationally
Robbery .31 1.85
Theft of a motor vehicle 2.39 4.04
Theft from a motor vehicle 7.11 9.59
Sexual offences .79 1.17
Violence against a person 13.36 19.97
Burglary 3.19 5.67

Famous inhabitants

The town's most famous children and residents are mainly authors, artists and actors:






Twin towns

Songs about Stroud

  • "Stroud, The Town Of Make Believe" by Blurt, on the album "Kenny Rogers' Greatest Hit"


External links

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